Rhubarb and Mango à la Vong

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This simple but utterly sublime combination was inspired by a fruit soup that I tasted at Vong, the French Thai restaurant in London. The appearance of deep yellow mango with clear pink rhubarb and the combination of their contrasting flavours is wonderful.

Ingredients

  • 500 g/1 lb 2 oz thin-stalked champagne rhubarb
  • 1.25 cm/½ in piece fresh ginger
  • 2-3 whole star anise
  • 150 ml/¼ pint water
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 75 g/3 oz caster sugar
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe mangoes
  • a few mint leaves, to decorate

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Slice the rhubarb across at 5cm/2in intervals — if the stalks are a bit thick, slice them in half lengthways, too. Peel the ginger, cut it in half and slice into small, very thin pieces. Put the rhubarb, ginger and star anise in a casserole dish. Put the water, lime juice and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boil fiercely for 2 minutes, then pour on to the rhubarb, cover the casserole and put on the centre shelf of the oven for about 1½ hours, until the rhubarb is very soft. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, then spoon into a wide glass serving bowl or individual bowls.

Cut open the mangoes and cut the flesh off the stone, then skin them and slice into thin strips. Mix the mango strips with the rhubarb without breaking it up too much, then chill. Before serving, decorate with mint leaves and ensure that the star anise are visible near the top.